Alonso buoyed by run to P8 in Brazil, first back-to-back points in ’17

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Fernando Alonso was pleased with his run to eighth place in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix as he recorded a top-10 finish in consecutive Formula 1 races for the first time this season.

Alonso started sixth at Interlagos after an impressive showing in qualifying, and made a good start to run fifth behind the safety car early on.

The McLaren driver was powerless to stop Felipe Massa fleeting past on the restart, and also dropped behind Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo as they recovered after starting down the field.

Alonso found himself in a last-lap scrap for P7 with Massa and Sergio Perez behind, but held position to take the checkered flag in P8.

“Overall, it’s been a happy Brazilian GP for us. We started sixth, at the first corner we were up to fifth, and then we finished in the points – one of our best weekends,” Alonso said.

“I had a fantastic car throughout the whole race, but, ultimately, I just could not overtake. We didn’t have enough speed on the straights.

“I was very, very close to Felipe a couple of times at the exit of the corners, and I thought ‘now is the time I can pass him,’ but even though I was using the DRS, he was pulling away. He was very consistent and made zero mistakes.

“Also, being the last lap of Felipe’s last-ever F1 race in Brazil, I wasn’t sure how hard he would defend! I didn’t have a chance to overtake him, anyway. And I had to defend from Perez behind, so I was happy when I saw the checkered flag.”

After finishing 10th last time out in Mexico, the result marked the first time Alonso had scored points in consecutive races this season after continued struggles with McLaren-Honda.

It was also just the fourth time Alonso has scored points in back-to-back races since the start of the McLaren-Honda partnership in 2015, with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in two weeks’ time marking the end of the relationship.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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